Simon Sustainability Executive Stresses Importance of Properly Explaining Green Leases

Mona Benisi, director of sustainability at Simon Property Group, Inc. (NYSE: SPG), joined REIT.com for a video interview at NAREIT’s 2015 Leader in the Light Working Forum in Reston, Va.

Benisi noted that one of the issues surrounding green leases in the retail sector is that of properly explaining what the contract involves.

“It’s a new topic; it’s evolving, both for landlords and tenants.  I think a big challenge is having proper communication and really explaining what is part of a green lease,” Benisi said.

Benisi also addressed the challenges that Simon faces with regard to growing disclosure requirements concerning energy and water usage. Benisi stressed that while Simon has managed to “get its house in order” regarding its own energy and water reporting, the primary difficulty comes from jurisdictions that require Simon to provide that data on behalf of its tenants.

“It’s a challenge to get access to that kind of information because it’s really not under our operational control,” Benisi said.

Looking ahead to major trends in sustainability, Benisi observed that “’materiality’ is the buzzword of the year,” especially since its incorporation into new reporting guidelines from the Global Reporting Initiative.

“It will be interesting to see what companies decide as material topics,” she said.  Companies in the retail industry, according to Benisi, see water, waste and recycling as important topics. Social matters, such as community and employee engagement, are starting to become more prominent, Benisi said.